David J. Skal's book "Hollywood Gothic" discusses the many incarnations of
Dracula, and of course covers "Nosferatu" at length. He suggests a number
of answers to your question, in a chapter too long to summarize here. Skal
mentions the "ardent spiritualism" of designer Albin Grau, who initially
came up with the idea of making a film of Dracula, did some scary drawings
of Dracula-as-monster, and hired Murnau to direct. He also says that
screenwriter Henrik Galeen, "faced with adapting a lengthy, rather wrody
Victoriannovel as a silent film, deftly excised everything except the
visual, metaphorical, and mythic." Much discussion of German expressionism,
Freudianism, and "universal fears and collective obsessions." The book is
well written, entertaining, and full of illustrations. Recommend it highly.
At 10:14 PM 11/17/98 -0500, you wrote:
>Why did Murnau portray Count Dracula as a sinister, ugly character in 1922?
>Dracula, in the original novel as well as in contemporary versions, is
>usually a sexy guy who seduces his prey and then springs his deadly fangs.
>For a class I was showing the final sequence in "Nosferatu" and comparing it
>to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." This was just before Halloween and I
>couldn't resist comparing the two heroines and their different slaying
>techniques. The students caught me on the above question. Any theories or
>notes from Murnau to explain his interpretation?
>Kalynn Huffman Brower
>Radio-TV Center, Room 309
>Department of Telecommunications
>Bloomington, IN 47405
>Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
>University of Alabama.
Barbara Bernstein San Francisco, CA
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